Sunday, January 11, 2015

"Life Never Becomes Dull..."

     A Medill student came by my office the other day to research a paper—drawn, I was amused to note, not through the column, but through the blog—and asked why I became a writer. I thought about being a kid, staring out the window of Fairwood Elementary School, bored and trying to conjure up wonders to distract myself. I told him that I became a writer because I was trying to keep life interesting. 
      As I got older, however, I realized that life is always interesting. Endlessly complex and fascinating. It is we who either notice it or, all too frequently, don't.
      That is the theme of the 2015 poster, which I am happy to unveil. Like last year's, it was produced by Hatch Show Print of Nashville, Tennessee, with the help of Carl, one of their six, count 'em, six steampunk designers on staff.  I should also give a thanks to James Smith, our own award-winning designer at the newspaper. I assumed I would change the color scheme this year—shake it up—particularly after a reader objected that the black-and-red made him think of the Nazi flag.
One of my favorite spots, the Book Bin, 1151 Church St.
in Northbrook, was the first place to display the poster.
      But James argued against that, conjuring up McDonald's and the value of consistency in branding. Works for them, or did. So black and red it is, at least for another year.
     While last year I did get them up in store windows around Chicago, I balked at actually pasting them to walls outdoors—except outside Powell's Books in Hyde Park, which encourages it. It's harder to actually do that than you might expect, and after I passed a guy on a stepladder, vigorously taking a razor blade to a handbill stuck to a brick wall in an alley, I realized: everywhere belongs to somebody, and I wouldn't want anyone to see one of these posters and think, "Oh shit." 
      But I see areas in Wicker Park that are crammed with posters—it seems permitted—and I'm going to make greater effort to get more up this year. As with last year, if you have a business, a place of public accommodation, and want one, let me know and I'll not only send you one, I'll post a picture of it on display in your establishment. Publicity for the both of us. 
You can still buy the old one
    Otherwise, you can also buy them. I've decided to keep the price the same—a reasonable $15, plus $6 for shipping and handling. The poster will arrive in a handsome, sturdy, re-usable cardboard tube manufactured right here in the city at Chicago Mailing Tube, 400 North Levitt. 
     Mail your check to Neil Steinberg, 2000 Center Ave., Northbrook, IL 60062. The poster is suitable for framing, and I've appreciated when readers have sent me photos of their photos, decorating their libraries and dens. 
    I thought perhaps I should stop selling the old posters, out of principle, but I've still got a few, and so those will remain on sale for the time being.  
     I think the new poster conveys a useful message. Life is a long time (as T.S. Eliot said). Its joy and fascination can sometimes fade, particularly as the years grind on. It is incumbent upon ourselves, if we want to lead happy lives, to realize it is ourselves, not life, that occasionally loses its edge, and thus we need to renew ourselves, to sharpen ourselves. I like to think this blog can help in that process. I know I need it.

The poster in the window of Turn The Tables, a delightful upscale consignment furniture shop at 1955 Cherry Lane in Northbrook that also features the lovely refinishing work of its co-owner, Melly Schwartz. 


  1. I betcha Centuries and Sleuths would display your poster if asked. It's not exactly my hangout or I would ask them myself.


    Love the new design and the new slogan even more -- your words I assume. We'll see how long visiting once a day keeps me out of the dementia ward.

  2. It's nice, but I still prefer the first poster. Thanks.

  3. I like them both, but this one does seem to jump off the page a bit more, which I imagine is the point. Well done!

  4. unrelated but Sir, why do you go to bat for some Muslims when they would hate you just based on your last name, look what they did to the Jews in a Kosher grocery store recently
    , and more as well in recent years

    1. Because I hold to my own code of values, I'm not inspired to ape those I supposedly oppose. Is that so hard to grasp?

  5. What's with those freaky dolls and masks on the page?

  6. The new one doesn't invoke nearly the Third Reich imagery as the first one did. The first one _did_ due to that lower-right corner; I mean, linear black lines arranged diagonally on a white circle background that is itself set against a red flag-styled banner hanging downwards? You just glance at that and it says "Hi, I'm Nazi Germany's flag".

  7. I see the entire poster affair, sleek and clean as it may be, as a barely-hidden call to arms to join Marx and Engels in their merry, updated debates with ``fuddy-duddies." Just put il Duce Trump's mug down where Karl's should be and throw a rendering of Sarah Palin where Jolly Engels' was, and use all that money and moose rifles and snow machines to…PARTY! That's what I' seeing.


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